Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a majority of the population in , and believe that is the , whose coming as the was in the (called the in Christianity) and chronicled in the . Christianity remains in its and , as well as in its doctrines concerning , , , and . The s of various generally hold in common Jesus as the —the —who , , and , but for the of mankind; and referred to as , meaning the "good news". Describing Jesus' life and teachings are the four of , , and , with the Old Testament as the gospel's respected background. as a sect in the province of . Jesus' and their followers around the , , , , the , , and , despite . It soon attracted s, which led to a departure from , and, after the which ended the -based Judaism, Christianity slowly . Emperor decriminalized Christianity in the Roman Empire by the (313), later convening the (325) where Early Christianity was consolidated into what would become the (380). The early history of Christianity's united church before major is sometimes referred to as the "" (though divergent sects existed at the same time, including and s). The split after the (431) and split after the (451) over differences in , while the and the separated in the (1054), especially over the authority of the . split in numerous denominations from the Catholic Church in the era (16th century) over and disputes, most predominantly and the . Christianity played in the of , particularly in Europe from and the .Cambridge University Historical Series, ''An Essay on Western Civilization in Its Economic Aspects'', p. 40: Hebraism, like Hellenism, has been an all-important factor in the development of Western Civilization; Judaism, as the precursor of Christianity, has indirectly had had much to do with shaping the ideals and morality of western nations since the christian era.Caltron J.H Hayas, ''Christianity and Western Civilization'' (1953), Stanford University Press, p. 2: "That certain distinctive features of our Western civilization—the civilization of western Europe and of America—have been shaped chiefly by Judaeo – Graeco – Christianity, Catholic and Protestant."Fred Reinhard Dallmayr, ''Dialogue Among Civilizations: Some Exemplary Voices'' (2004), p. 22: Western civilization is also sometimes described as "Christian" or "Judaeo- Christian" civilization. Following the (15th–17th century), Christianity was spread into the , , , and the rest of the world via . The four largest are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion/50.1%), Protestantism (920 million/36.7%), the Eastern Orthodox Church (230 million), and the Oriental Orthodox churches (62 million) (Orthodox churches combined at 11.9%), though thousands of smaller church communities exist despite efforts toward unity (). Despite a in the , Christianity remains the dominant religion in the region, with about 70% of the population identifying as Christian. in Africa and Asia, the world's most populous continents. Christians remain in some regions of the world, especially in the , , , and ."Christian persecution 'at near genocide levels'".
'. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
Wintour, Patrick. "Persecution of Christians coming close to genocide' in Middle East – report".
'. 2 May 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.


Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as 'The Way' ( grc-x-koine, τῆς ὁδοῦ, tês hodoû), probably coming from , "prepare the way of the Lord."Larry Hurtado (17 August 2017 )
''"Paul, the Pagans’ Apostle"''
/ref> According to , the term "Christian" (, ), meaning "followers of Christ" in reference to Jesus's , was first used in the city of by the non-Jewish inhabitants there. The earliest recorded use of the term "Christianity" (, ) was by around 100 AD.


While Christians worldwide share basic convictions, there are also differences of interpretations and opinions of the and s on which Christianity is based.Olson, ''The Mosaic of Christian Belief''.


Concise doctrinal statements or confessions of religious beliefs are known as . They began as baptismal formulae and were later expanded during the controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries to become statements of faith. "" is the earliest creed of Christianity and continues to be used, as with the . The is the most widely accepted statement of the articles of Christian faith. It is used by a number of for both and purposes, most visibly by liturgical churches of tradition, including the of the , , , and . It is also used by , , and . This particular creed was developed between the 2nd and 9th centuries. Its central doctrines are those of the and the . Each of the doctrines found in this creed can be traced to statements current in the . The creed was apparently used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. Its points include: * Belief in , as the , and the * The , , and of Christ * The holiness of the and the * Christ's , the and of the faithful The Nicene Creed was formulated, largely in response to , at the Councils of and in 325 and 381 respectively, and ratified as the universal creed of by the in 431.'

The , or Creed of Chalcedon, developed at the in 451, though rejected by the , taught Christ "to be acknowledged in two natures, in confusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably": one divine and one human, and that both natures, while perfect in themselves, are nevertheless also . The , received in the Western Church as having the same status as the Nicene and Chalcedonian, says: "We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the ." Most Christians (, , , and alike) accept the use of creeds, and subscribe to at least one of the creeds mentioned above. Many reject creeds as definitive statements of faith, even while agreeing with some or all of the substance of the creeds. For example, most do not use creeds "in that they have not sought to establish binding authoritative confessions of faith on one another."Avis, Paul (2002) ''The Christian Church: An Introduction to the Major Traditions'', SPCK, London, paperback Also rejecting creeds are groups with roots in the , such as the , the , and the .Ron Rhodes, ''The Complete Guide to Christian Denominations'', Harvest House Publishers, 2005,


The central tenet of Christianity is the belief in as the and the (Christ). Christians believe that Jesus, as the Messiah, was by God as savior of humanity and hold that Jesus' coming was the fulfillment of of the . The Christian concept of messiah differs significantly from . The core Christian belief is that through belief in and acceptance of , humans can be reconciled to God, and thereby are offered salvation and the promise of . While there have been many disputes over the over the earliest centuries of Christian history, generally, Christians believe that Jesus is and "" (or both fully divine and fully human). Jesus, having become , suffered the pains and temptations of a mortal man, but did not . As fully God, he rose to life again. According to the , he from the dead, to heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will ultimately to fulfill the rest of the , including the , the , and the final establishment of the . According to the s of and , Jesus was by the and from . Little of Jesus' childhood is recorded in the canonical gospels, although were popular in antiquity. In comparison, his adulthood, especially the week before his death, is well documented in the gospels contained within the , because that part of his life is believed to be most important. The biblical accounts of include: , , preaching, teaching, and deeds.

Death and resurrection

Christians consider the resurrection of Jesus to be the cornerstone of their faith (see ) and the most important event in history. Among Christian beliefs, the death and resurrection of Jesus are two core events on which much of Christian doctrine and theology is based. According to the New Testament, Jesus was , died a physical death, was buried within a tomb, and rose from the dead three days later. The several on different occasions to his and , including "more than five hundred brethren at once", before Jesus' to heaven. Jesus' death and resurrection are commemorated by Christians in all worship services, with special emphasis during , which includes and . The death and resurrection of Jesus are usually considered the most important events in , partly because they demonstrate that Jesus has power over life and death and therefore has the authority and power to give people . Christian churches accept and teach the account of the resurrection of Jesus with very few exceptions. Some modern scholars use the belief of Jesus' followers in the resurrection as a point of departure for establishing the continuity of the and the proclamation of the . Some do not accept a literal bodily resurrection, seeing the story as richly symbolic and spiritually nourishing . Arguments over death and resurrection claims occur at many religious s and . , an early Christian convert and missionary, wrote, "If Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless."


, like Jews and Roman s of his time, believed that sacrifice can bring about new kinship ties, purity, and eternal life. For Paul, the necessary sacrifice was the death of Jesus: Gentiles who are "Christ's" are, like Israel, descendants of Abraham and "heirs according to the promise" The God who raised Jesus from the dead would also give new life to the "mortal bodies" of Gentile Christians, who had become with Israel, the "children of God", and were therefore no longer "in the flesh". Modern Christian churches tend to be much more concerned with how humanity can be from a universal condition of sin and death than the question of how both Jews and Gentiles can be in God's family. According to theology, based upon their understanding of the atonement as put forward by Irenaeus' , Jesus' death is a . This restores the relation with God, who is loving and reaches out to humanity, and offers the possibility of ' c.q. , becoming the kind of humans God wants humanity to be. According to Catholic doctrine, Jesus' death the wrath of God, aroused by the offense to God's honor caused by human's sinfulness. The Catholic Church teaches that salvation does not occur without faithfulness on the part of Christians; converts must live in accordance with principles of love and ordinarily must be baptized. In Protestant theology, Jesus' death is regarded as a carried by Jesus, for the debt that has to be paid by humankind when it broke God's moral law. taught that baptism was necessary for salvation, but modern Lutherans and other Protestants tend to teach that salvation is a gift that comes to an individual by , sometimes defined as "unmerited favor", even apart from baptism. Christians differ in their views on the extent to which individuals' salvation is pre-ordained by God. Reformed theology places distinctive emphasis on grace by teaching that individuals are , but that . In contrast , Orthodox Christians, and Protestants believe that the exercise of is necessary to have faith in Jesus.


''Trinity'' refers to the teaching that the one GodChristianity's status as monotheistic is affirmed in, among other sources, the ' (article

); , ''From the Stone Age to Christianity''; ; About.com
''Monotheistic Religion resources''
Kirsch, ''God Against the Gods''; Woodhead, ''An Introduction to Christianity'';

The New Dictionary of

New Dictionary of Theology

pp. 496–499; Meconi. "Pagan Monotheism in Late Antiquity". pp. 111ff.
comprises three distinct, eternally co-existing persons: the ', the ''Son'' (incarnate in Jesus Christ), and the '. Together, these three persons are sometimes called the , although there is no single term in use in Scripture to denote the unified Godhead. In the words of the , an early statement of Christian belief, "the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God". They are distinct from another: the Father has no source, the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father. Though distinct, the three persons cannot be divided from one another in being or in operation. While some Christians also believe that God appeared as the Father in the , it is agreed that he appeared as the Son in the , and will still continue to manifest as the Holy Spirit in the present. But still, God still existed as three persons in each of these times. However, traditionally there is a belief that it was the Son who appeared in the Old Testament because, for example, when the , the Son typically has the distinctive appearance, a identifying Christ, and in depictions of the , this looks forward to an Incarnation yet to occur. In some the Logos is distinguished with a beard, "which allows him to appear ancient, even pre-existent." The is an essential doctrine of mainstream Christianity. From earlier than the times of the Nicene Creed (325) Christianity advocated the triune -nature of as a normative profession of faith. According to and Christopher Hall, through prayer, meditation, study and practice, the Christian community concluded "that God must exist as both a unity and trinity", codifying this in ecumenical council at the end of the 4th century. According to this doctrine, God is not divided in the sense that each person has a third of the whole; rather, each person is considered to be fully God (see ). The distinction lies in their relations, the Father being unbegotten; the Son being begotten of the Father; and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and (in theology) . Regardless of this apparent difference, the three "persons" are each and . Other Christian religions including , , and , do not share those views on the Trinity. The Greek word ''trias'' is first seen in this sense in the works of ; his text reads: "of the Trinity, of God, and of His Word, and of His Wisdom". The term may have been in use before this time; its Latin equivalent, ''trinitas'', appears afterwards with an explicit reference to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in . In the following century, the word was in general use. It is found in many passages of .


''Trinitarianism'' denotes Christians who believe in the concept of the . Almost all Christian denominations and churches hold Trinitarian beliefs. Although the words "Trinity" and "Triune" do not appear in the Bible, beginning in the 3rd century theologians developed the term and concept to facilitate comprehension of the New Testament teachings of God as being Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Since that time, Christian theologians have been careful to emphasize that Trinity does not imply that there are three gods (the antitrinitarian heresy of ), nor that each hypostasis of the Trinity is one-third of an infinite God (partialism), nor that the Son and the Holy Spirit are beings created by and subordinate to the Father (). Rather, the Trinity is defined as one God in three persons.


''Nontrinitarianism'' (or ''antitrinitarianism'') refers to theology that rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. Various nontrinitarian views, such as or , existed in early Christianity, leading to the disputes about . Nontrinitarianism reappeared in the of the between the 11th and 13th centuries, among groups with theology in the of the 16th century, in the 18th-century , amongst some groups arising during the of the 19th century, and most recently, in churches.


The end of things, whether the end of an individual life, the end of the age, or the end of the world, broadly speaking, is Christian eschatology; the study of the destiny of humans as it is revealed in the Bible. The major issues in Christian eschatology are the , death and the afterlife, (mainly for groups) and the following , the of Jesus, , Heaven, (for branches) , and Hell, the , the end of the world, and the . Christians believe that the second coming of Christ will occur at the , after a period of severe persecution (the Great Tribulation). All who have died will be for the Last Judgment. Jesus will fully establish the in fulfillment of .

questions 69 through 99

Death and afterlife

Most Christians believe that human beings experience divine judgment and are rewarded either with eternal life or . This includes the at the as well as the belief (held by Catholics,',

Ott, ''Grundriß der Dogmatik'', p. 566. Orthodox and most Protestants) in a upon physical death. In the Catholic branch of Christianity, those who die in a state of grace, i.e., without any mortal sin separating them from God, but are still imperfectly purified from the effects of sin, undergo purification through the intermediate state of to achieve the holiness necessary for entrance into God's presence. Those who have attained this goal are called ''saints'' (Latin ''sanctus'', "holy"). Some Christian groups, such as Seventh-day Adventists, hold to , the belief that the human soul is not naturally immortal, and is unconscious during the intermediate state between bodily death and resurrection. These Christians also hold to , the belief that subsequent to the final judgement, the wicked will cease to exist rather than suffer everlasting torment. Jehovah's Witnesses hold to a similar view.


Depending on the specific , practices may include , the (Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper), (including the ), , , burial rites, marriage rites and the religious education of children. Most denominations have who lead regular worship services.

Communal worship

of worship typically follow a pattern or form known as . described 2nd-century Christian liturgy in his ' () to Emperor , and his description remains relevant to the basic structure of Christian liturgical worship: Thus, as Justin described, Christians assemble for communal worship typically on Sunday, the day of the resurrection, though other liturgical practices often occur outside this setting. Scripture readings are drawn from the Old and New Testaments, but especially the gospels. Instruction is given based on these readings, called a or . There are a variety of prayers, including thanksgiving, confession, and , which occur throughout the service and take a variety of forms including recited, responsive, silent, or sung. , s, or s may be sung. Services can be varied for special events like significant . Nearly all forms of worship incorporate the Eucharist, which consists of a meal. It is reenacted in accordance with Jesus' instruction at the Last Supper that his followers do in remembrance of him as when he gave his disciples , saying, "This is my body", and gave them saying, "This is my blood". In the , Christians and those yet to complete initiation would separate for the Eucharistic part of the service. Some denominations such as churches continue to practice ''. They offer communion to those who are already united in that denomination or sometimes individual church. Catholics further restrict participation to their members who are not in a state of . Many other churches, such as and , practice '' since they view communion as a means to unity, rather than an end, and invite all believing Christians to participate.

Sacraments or ordinances

In Christian belief and practice, a ''sacrament'' is a , instituted by Christ, that confers , constituting a . The term is derived from the word ''sacramentum'', which was used to translate the Greek word for ''mystery''. Views concerning both which rites are sacramental, and what it means for an act to be a sacrament, vary among Christian denominations and traditions.Cross/Livingstone. ''The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church''. pp. 1435ff. The most conventional functional definition of a sacrament is that it is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, that conveys an inward, spiritual grace through Christ. The two most widely accepted sacraments are and the Eucharist; however, the majority of Christians also recognize five additional sacraments: ( in the Eastern tradition), (or ), (or ), , and (see ). Taken together, these are the as recognized by churches in the tradition—notably , , , , , many , and some . Most other denominations and traditions typically affirm only Baptism and Eucharist as sacraments, while some Protestant groups, such as the Quakers, reject sacramental theology. churches adhering to the doctrine of the mostly use the term "" to refer to baptism and communion. In addition to this, the has two additional sacraments in place of the traditional sacraments of Matrimony and the Anointing of the Sick. These include (Melka) and the .''Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon.'' File:Исповедь берн собор.jpg, A penitent his sins in a church File:Methodistcommunion3.jpg, A minister celebrating the File:Anglican confirmation in Helsinki.jpg, being administered in an church File:Cheirotonia_Presbyter_1.jpeg, of a priest in the tradition File:Crowning in Syro-Malabar Nasrani Wedding by Mar Gregory Karotemprel.jpg, Crowning during in the File:2017-04-12--Service of the Sacrament of Holy Unction, on Holy Wednesday.jpg, Service of the Sacrament of served on Great and Holy Wednesday

Liturgical calendar

Catholics, Eastern Christians, Lutherans, Anglicans and other traditional Protestant communities frame worship around the . The liturgical cycle divides the year into a series of s, each with their theological emphases, and modes of prayer, which can be signified by different ways of decorating churches, colors of s and s for clergy, scriptural readings, themes for preaching and even different traditions and practices often observed personally or in the home. Western Christian liturgical calendars are based on the cycle of the of the Catholic Church, and Eastern Christians use analogous calendars based on the cycle of their respective . Calendars set aside holy days, such as which commemorate an event in the life of Jesus, Mary, or the s, and periods of , such as and other pious events such as , or lesser festivals commemorating saints. Christian groups that do not follow a liturgical tradition often retain certain celebrations, such as , , and : these are the celebrations of Christ's birth, resurrection, and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, respectively. A few denominations such as make no use of a liturgical calendar.


Christianity has not generally practiced , the avoidance or prohibition of devotional images, even if early s and some modern , invoking the prohibition of , avoided figures in their symbols. The , today one of the most widely recognized symbols, was used by Christians from the earliest times. Tertullian, in his book ''De Corona'', tells how it was already a tradition for Christians to trace the sign of the cross on their foreheads. Although the cross was known to the early Christians, the did not appear in use until the 5th century.Dilasser. ''The Symbols of the Church''. Among the earliest Christian symbols, that of the fish or seems to have ranked first in importance, as seen on monumental sources such as tombs from the first decades of the 2nd century.',

Its popularity seemingly arose from the Greek word ''ichthys'' (fish) forming an for the Greek phrase ''Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter'' (Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ), (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior), a concise summary of Christian faith. Other major Christian symbols include the , the (symbolic of the Holy Spirit), the sacrificial lamb (representing Christ's sacrifice), the (symbolizing the connection of the Christian with Christ) and many others. These all derive from passages of the New Testament.


Baptism is the ritual act, with the use of water, by which a person is admitted to membership of the . Beliefs on baptism vary among denominations. Differences occur firstly on whether the act has any spiritual significance. Some, such as the Catholic and , as well as Lutherans and Anglicans, hold to the doctrine of , which affirms that baptism creates or strengthens a person's faith, and is intimately linked to salvation. Others view baptism as a purely symbolic act, an external public declaration of the inward change which has taken place in the person, but not as spiritually efficacious. Secondly, there are differences of opinion on the methodology of the act. These methods are: by ; if immersion is total, by ''submersion''; by (pouring); and by (sprinkling). Those who hold the first view may also adhere to the tradition of ; the Orthodox Churches all practice infant baptism and always baptize by total immersion repeated three times in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church also practices infant baptism, usually by affusion, and utilizing the . denominations adhering to the doctrine of the , practice the , in water, after the and a . For newborns, there is a ceremony called .


In the , taught the , which has been seen as a model for Christian prayer. The injunction for Christians to pray the Lord's prayer thrice daily was given in the ' and came to be recited by Christians at 9 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm. In the second century ', instructed Christians to pray at : "on rising, at the lighting of the evening lamp, at bedtime, at midnight" and "the third, sixth and ninth hours of the day, being hours associated with Christ's Passion." Prayer positions, including kneeling, standing, and s have been used for these seven fixed prayer times since the days of the early Church. such as the and are used by to pray these while facing in the . The ''Apostolic Tradition'' directed that the be used by Christians during the of , during before praying at fixed prayer times, and in times of temptation. ''Intercessory prayer'' is prayer offered for the benefit of other people. There are many intercessory prayers recorded in the Bible, including prayers of the on behalf of sick persons and by s of the Old Testament in favor of other people. In the , no distinction is made between the intercessory prayer offered by ordinary believers and the prominent Old Testament prophet . The effectiveness of prayer in Christianity derives from the power of God rather than the status of the one praying. The ancient church, in both and , developed a tradition of asking for the , and this remains the practice of most , , , and some churches. Churches of the Protestant Reformation, however, rejected prayer to the saints, largely on the basis of the sole mediatorship of Christ. The reformer admitted that he had offered prayers to the saints until his reading of the Bible convinced him that this was . According to the ': "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God." The ' in the Anglican tradition is a guide which provides a set order for services, containing set prayers, scripture readings, and hymns or sung Psalms. Frequently in Western Christianity, when praying, the hands are placed palms together and forward as in the feudal . At other times the older posture may be used, with palms up and elbows in.


Christianity, like other religions, has adherents whose beliefs and biblical interpretations vary. Christianity regards the , the and the , as the word of God. The traditional view of inspiration is that God worked through human authors so that what they produced was what God wished to communicate. The Greek word referring to inspiration in is ''theopneustos'', which literally means "God-breathed". Some believe that divine inspiration makes our present Bibles . Others claim inerrancy for the Bible in its original manuscripts, although none of those are extant. Still others maintain that only a particular translation is inerrant, such as the . Another closely related view is or limited inerrancy, which affirms that the Bible is free of error as a guide to salvation, but may include errors on matters such as history, geography, or science. The accepted by the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches vary somewhat, with Jews accepting only the Hebrew Bible as canonical; however, there is substantial overlap. These variations are a reflection of the range of s, and of the that have convened on the subject. Every version of the Old Testament always includes the books of the , the canon of the . The Catholic and Orthodox canons, in addition to the Tanakh, also include the as part of the Old Testament. These books appear in the , but are regarded by Protestants to be . However, they are considered to be important historical documents which help to inform the understanding of words, grammar, and syntax used in the historical period of their conception. Some versions of the Bible include a separate Apocrypha section between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The New Testament, originally written in , contains 27 books which are agreed upon by all major churches. Modern scholarship has raised many issues with the Bible. While the is held to by many because of its striking English prose, in fact it was translated from the Erasmus Greek Bible, which in turn "was based on a single 12th Century manuscript that is one of the worst manuscripts we have available to us".Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). ''Misquoting Jesus: the story behind who changed the Bible and why''. San Francisco: Harper pp. 183, 209 Much scholarship in the past several hundred years has gone into comparing different manuscripts in order to reconstruct the original text. Another issue is that several books are considered to be forgeries. The injunction that women "be silent and submissive" in 1 Timothy 2 is thought by many to be a forgery by a follower of Paul, a similar phrase in 1 Corinthians 14, which is thought to be by Paul, appears in different places in different manuscripts and is thought to originally be a margin note by a copyist. Other verses in 1 Corinthians, such as 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 where women are instructed to wear a covering over their hair "when they pray or prophesies", contradict this verse. A final issue with the Bible is the way in which books were selected for inclusion in the New Testament. have now been recovered, such as those found near in 1945, and while some of these texts are quite different from what Christians have been used to, it should be understood that some of this newly recovered Gospel material is quite possibly contemporaneous with, or even earlier than, the New Testament Gospels. The core of the , in particular, may date from as early as AD 50 (although some major scholars contest this early dating), and if so would provide an insight into the earliest gospel texts that underlie the canonical Gospels, texts that are mentioned in Luke 1:1–2. The Gospel of Thomas contains much that is familiar from the canonical Gospels—verse 113, for example ("The Father's Kingdom is spread out upon the earth, but people do not see it"), is reminiscent of Luke 17:20–21—and the , with a terminology and approach that is suggestive of what was later termed ''Gnosticism'', has recently been seen as a possible response to the Gospel of Thomas, a text that is commonly labeled ''proto-Gnostic''. Scholarship, then, is currently exploring the relationship in the early church between mystical speculation and experience on the one hand and the search for church order on the other, by analyzing new-found texts, by subjecting canonical texts to further scrutiny, and by an examination of the passage of New Testament texts to canonical status. Some denominations have beyond the Bible, including the of the and ' in the .

Catholic interpretation

In antiquity, two schools of exegesis developed in and . The Alexandrian interpretation, exemplified by , tended to read Scripture , while the Antiochene interpretation adhered to the literal sense, holding that other meanings (called ') could only be accepted if based on the literal meaning. theology distinguishes two senses of scripture: the literal and the spiritual. The ''literal'' sense of understanding scripture is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture. The ''spiritual'' sense is further subdivided into: * The ''allegorical'' sense, which includes . An example would be the being understood as a "type" (sign) of baptism. * The ' sense, which understands the scripture to contain some ethical teaching. * The ' sense, which applies to , eternity and the Regarding , following the rules of sound interpretation, Catholic theology holds: * The injunction that all other senses of sacred scripture are based on the ''literal'' * That the historicity of the Gospels must be absolutely and constantly held * That scripture must be read within the "living Tradition of the whole Church" and * That "the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the of ".

Protestant interpretation

Qualities of Scripture

Many Protestant Christians, such as Lutherans and the Reformed, believe in the doctrine of '--that the Bible is a self-sufficient revelation, the final authority on all Christian doctrine, and necessary for salvation; other Protestant Christians, such as Methodists and Anglicans, affirm the doctrine of ' which teaches that Scripture is the primary source for Christian doctrine, but that "tradition, experience, and reason" can nurture the Christian religion as long as they are in harmony with the . Protestants characteristically believe that ordinary believers may reach an adequate understanding of Scripture because Scripture itself is clear in its meaning (or "perspicuous"). Martin Luther believed that without God's help, Scripture would be "enveloped in darkness". He advocated for "one definite and simple understanding of Scripture". wrote, "all who refuse not to follow the Holy Spirit as their guide, find in the Scripture a clear light". Related to this is "efficacy", that Scripture is able to lead people to faith; and "sufficiency", that the Scriptures contain everything that one needs to know in order to obtain salvation and to live a Christian life.

Original intended meaning of Scripture

Protestants stress the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture, the . The historical-grammatical method or grammatico-historical method is an effort in to find the intended original meaning in the text. This original intended meaning of the text is drawn out through examination of the passage in light of the grammatical and syntactical aspects, the historical background, the literary genre, as well as theological (canonical) considerations. The historical-grammatical method distinguishes between the one original meaning and the significance of the text. The significance of the text includes the ensuing use of the text or application. The original passage is seen as having only a single meaning or sense. As Milton S. Terry said: "A fundamental principle in grammatico-historical exposition is that the words and sentences can have but one significance in one and the same connection. The moment we neglect this principle we drift out upon a sea of uncertainty and conjecture." Technically speaking, the grammatical-historical method of interpretation is distinct from the determination of the passage's significance in light of that interpretation. Taken together, both define the term (Biblical) hermeneutics. Some Protestant interpreters make use of .


Early Christianity

Apostolic Age

Christianity developed during the 1st century CE as a sect of . An early Jewish Christian community was founded in Jerusalem under the leadership of the , namely , the brother of Jesus, , and John. Jewish Christianity soon attracted Gentile , posing a problem for its Jewish religious outlook, which insisted on close observance of the Jewish commands. solved this by insisting that salvation by , and in his death and resurrection by their baptism, sufficed. At first he persecuted the early Christians, but after a conversion experience he preached to the , and is regarded as having had a formative effect on the emerging Christian identity as separate from Judaism. Eventually, his departure from Jewish customs would result in the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion.

Ante-Nicene period

This formative period was followed by the early s, whom Christians consider the . From the year 150, Christian teachers began to produce theological and apologetic works aimed at defending the faith. These authors are known as the , and the study of them is called . Notable early Fathers include , , , , , and . occurred intermittently and on a small scale by both Jewish and , with Roman action starting at the time of the in 64 AD. Examples of early executions under Jewish authority reported in the include the deaths of and . The was the first empire-wide conflict,Martin, D. 2010
''The "Afterlife" of the New Testament and Postmodern Interpretation''

lecture transcript
). Yale University.
when the edict of in 250 AD required everyone in the Roman Empire (except Jews) to perform a sacrifice to the Roman gods. The beginning in 303 AD was also particularly severe. Roman persecution ended in 313 AD with the . While was becoming dominant, heterodox sects also existed at the same time, which held radically different beliefs. developed a doctrine based on illusion and enlightenment rather than forgiveness of sin. With only a few scriptures overlapping with the developing orthodox canon, most and were eventually considered heretical and suppressed by mainstream Christians. A gradual splitting off of left continuing to follow the , including practices such as circumcision. By the fifth century, they and the would be largely suppressed by the dominant sects in both Judaism and Christianity.

Spread and acceptance in Roman Empire

Christianity spread to -speaking peoples along the and also to the inland parts of the and beyond that into the and the later , including , which was dominated at different times and to varying extents by these empires. The presence of Christianity in Africa began in the middle of the 1st century in Egypt and by the end of the 2nd century in the region around . is claimed to have started the in about 43 CE; various later churches claim this as their own legacy, including the . Important Africans who influenced the early development of Christianity include , , , , , and . made Christianity the in between 301 and 314, thus Armenia became the first officially Christian state. It was not an entirely new religion in Armenia, having penetrated into the country from at least the third century, but it may have been present even earlier. was exposed to Christianity in his youth, and throughout his life his support for the religion grew, culminating in baptism on his deathbed. During his reign, state-sanctioned persecution of Christians was ended with the in 311 and the in 313. At that point, Christianity was still a minority belief, comprising perhaps only five percent of the Roman population. Influenced by his adviser , Constantine's nephew unsuccessfully tried to suppress Christianity. On 27 February 380, , , and established as the . As soon as it became connected to the state, Christianity grew wealthy; the Church solicited donations from the rich and could now own land. Constantine was also instrumental in the convocation of the in 325, which sought to address and formulated the , which is still used by in , , , , and many other churches. Nicaea was the first of a series of s, which formally defined critical elements of the theology of the Church, notably concerning .McManners, ''Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity'', pp. 37ff. The did not accept the third and following ecumenical councils and is still separate today by its successors (). In terms of prosperity and cultural life, the was one of the peaks in and , and remained the leading city of the in size, wealth, and culture. , as well as an increase in literary output in vernacular Greek.. Byzantine art and literature held a preeminent place in Europe, and the cultural impact of on the West during this period was enormous and of long-lasting significance.. The later rise of in North Africa reduced the size and numbers of Christian congregations, leaving in large numbers only the in Egypt, the in the Horn of Africa and the in the Sudan (Nobatia, Makuria and Alodia).

Early Middle Ages

With the decline and , the became a political player, first visible in 's diplomatic dealings with and . The church also entered into a long period of missionary activity and expansion among the various tribes. While instituted the death penalty for practicing pagans (see the , for example), what would later become also spread among the , the , the , the and some . Around 500, set out his , establishing a system of regulations for the foundation and running of . became a powerful force throughout Europe, and gave rise to many early centers of learning, most famously in , , and , contributing to the of the 9th century. In the 7th century, (including ), North Africa, and Spain, converting some of the Christian population to , and placing the rest under a separate . Part of the Muslims' success was due to the exhaustion of the Byzantine Empire in its decades long conflict with . Beginning in the 8th century, with the rise of leaders, the Papacy sought greater political support in the . The Middle Ages brought about major changes within the church. dramatically reformed the and administration. In the early 8th century, became a divisive issue, when it was sponsored by the emperors. The (787) finally pronounced in favor of icons. In the early 10th century, Western Christian monasticism was further rejuvenated through the leadership of the great Benedictine monastery of .

High and Late Middle Ages

In the West, from the 11th century onward, some older cathedral schools (see, for example, , and ). Previously, higher education had been the domain of Christian s or s (''Scholae monasticae''), led by s and s. Evidence of such schools dates back to the 6th century CE. These new universities expanded the curriculum to include academic programs for clerics, lawyers, civil servants, and physicians. The university is generally regarded as an institution that has its origin in the setting.Rüegg, Walter: "Foreword. The University as a European Institution", in: ''A History of the University in Europe. Vol. 1: Universities in the Middle Ages'', Cambridge University Press, 1992, , pp. XIX–XX Accompanying the rise of the "new towns" throughout Europe, s were founded, bringing the out of the monastery and into the new urban setting. The two principal mendicant movements were the and the , founded by and , respectively. Both orders made significant contributions to the development of the great universities of Europe. Another new order was the , whose large isolated monasteries spearheaded the settlement of former wilderness areas. In this period, church building and ecclesiastical architecture reached new heights, culminating in the orders of and and the building of the great European cathedrals. emerged during this era in which Christians felt the impulse to recover lands in which Christianity had historically flourished. From 1095 under the pontificate of , the was launched. These were a series of military campaigns in the and elsewhere, initiated in response to pleas from the Byzantine Emperor for aid against expansion. The Crusades ultimately failed to stifle Islamic aggression and even contributed to Christian enmity with the sacking of during the . The Christian Church experienced internal conflict between the 7th and 13th centuries that resulted in a between the so-called Latin or branch (the Catholic Church), and an , largely Greek, branch (the ). The two sides disagreed on a number of administrative, liturgical and doctrinal issues, most prominently .Duffy, ''Saints and Sinners'' (1997), p. 91 The (1274) and the (1439) attempted to reunite the churches, but in both cases, the Eastern Orthodox refused to implement the decisions, and the two principal churches remain in schism to the present day. However, the Catholic Church has achieved union with various . In the thirteenth century, a new emphasis on Jesus' suffering, exemplified by the Franciscans' preaching, had the consequence of turning worshippers' attention towards Jews, on whom . Christianity's limited tolerance of Jews was not new—Augustine of Hippo said that Jews should not be allowed to enjoy the citizenship that Christians took for granted—but the growing antipathy towards Jews was a factor that led to , the first of many such expulsions in Europe. Beginning around 1184, following the crusade against heresy, various institutions, broadly referred to as the , were established with the aim of suppressing and securing religious and doctrinal unity within Christianity through and prosecution.

Protestant Reformation and Counter-Reformation

The 15th-century brought about a renewed interest in ancient and classical learning. During the , posted the ' 1517 against the sale of .Simon. ''Great Ages of Man: The Reformation''. pp. 39, 55–61. Printed copies soon spread throughout Europe. In 1521 the condemned and excommunicated Luther and his followers, resulting in the schism of the into several branches.Simon. ''Great Ages of Man: The Reformation''. p. 7. Other reformers like , , , , and further criticized Catholic teaching and worship. These challenges developed into the movement called , which repudiated the , the role of tradition, the , and other doctrines and practices. The began in 1534, when had himself of the . Beginning in 1536, the monasteries throughout England, Wales and Ireland were .Schama. ''A History of Britain''. pp. 306–310. , and other theologians perceived both the Catholic Church and the confessions of the as corrupted. Their activity brought about the , which gave birth to various denominations. Partly in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church engaged in a substantial process of reform and renewal, known as the or Catholic Reform. The clarified and reasserted Catholic doctrine. During the following centuries, competition between Catholicism and Protestantism became deeply entangled with political struggles among European states.Simon. ''Great Ages of Man: The Reformation''. pp. 109–120. Meanwhile, the discovery of America by in 1492 brought about a new wave of missionary activity. Partly from missionary zeal, but under the impetus of by the European powers, Christianity spread to the Americas, Oceania, East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Throughout Europe, the division caused by the Reformation led to outbreaks of and the establishment of separate state churches in Europe. spread into the northern, central, and eastern parts of present-day Germany, , and Scandinavia. was established in England in 1534. and its varieties, such as , were introduced in Scotland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, and France. gained followers in the Netherlands and . Ultimately, these differences led to the outbreak of in which religion played a key factor. The , the , and the are prominent examples. These events intensified the . In the revival of neoplatonism did not reject Christianity; quite the contrary, many of the greatest works of the were devoted to it, and the Catholic Church patronized many works of .Open University,

' (Retrieved 10 May 2007)
Much, if not most, of the new art was commissioned by or in dedication to the Church. Some scholars and historians attributes Christianity to having contributed to the rise of the , Many well-known historical figures who influenced considered themselves Christian such as , , , and .


In the era known as the , when in the West, the and the brought about great societal changes, Christianity was confronted with various forms of and with certain modern , such as versions of and . Events ranged from mere to violent outbursts against Christianity, such as the , the , and certain movements, especially and the under . Especially pressing in Europe was the formation of after the . In all European countries, different Christian denominations found themselves in competition to greater or lesser extents with each other and with the state. Variables were the relative sizes of the denominations and the religious, political, and ideological orientation of the states. Urs Altermatt of the , looking specifically at Catholicism in Europe, identifies four models for the European nations. In traditionally Catholic-majority countries such as Belgium, Spain, and Austria, to some extent, religious and national communities are more or less identical. Cultural symbiosis and separation are found in Poland, the Republic of Ireland, and Switzerland, all countries with competing denominations. Competition is found in Germany, the Netherlands, and again Switzerland, all countries with minority Catholic populations, which to a greater or lesser extent identified with the nation. Finally, separation between religion (again, specifically Catholicism) and the state is found to a great degree in France and Italy, countries where the state actively opposed itself to the authority of the Catholic Church. The combined factors of the formation of nation states and , especially in Germany and the Netherlands, but also in England to a much lesser extent, often forced Catholic churches, organizations, and believers to choose between the national demands of the state and the authority of the Church, specifically the papacy. This conflict came to a head in the , and in Germany would lead directly to the ', where liberals and Protestants under the leadership of managed to severely restrict Catholic expression and organization. Christian commitment in Europe dropped as modernity and secularism came into their own, particularly in and , while religious commitments in America have been generally high in comparison to Europe. The late 20th century has shown the shift of Christian adherence to the and the Southern Hemisphere in general, with the West no longer the chief standard bearer of Christianity. Approximately 7 to 10% of are , most prevalent in Egypt, and .


With around 2.4 billion adherents,31.4% of ≈7.4 billion world population (under the section 'People') split into three main branches of Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox, Christianity is the . The Christian share of the world's population has stood at around 33% for the last hundred years, which means that one in three persons on Earth are Christians. This masks a major shift in the demographics of Christianity; large increases in the developing world have been accompanied by substantial declines in the developed world, mainly in Western Europe and North America. According to a 2015 study, within the next four decades, Christianity will remain the largest religion; and by 2050, the Christian population is expected to exceed 3 billion. According to some scholars, Christianity ranks at first place in net gains through . As a percentage of Christians, the and (both and ) are declining in some parts of the world (though Catholicism is growing in Asia, in Africa, vibrant in Eastern Europe, etc.), while and other are on the rise in the developing world. The so-called ''popular Protestantism''A flexible term, defined as all forms of Protestantism with the notable exception of the historical denominations deriving directly from the Protestant Reformation. is one of the fastest growing religious categories in the world. Nevertheless, Catholicism will also continue to grow to 1.63 billion by 2050, according to Todd Johnson of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity. Africa alone, by 2015, will be home to 230 million African Catholics. And if in 2018, the U.N. projects that Africa's population will reach 4.5 billion by 2100 (not 2 billion as predicted in 2004), Catholicism will indeed grow, as will other religious groups. According to Pew Research Center, Africa is expected to be home to 1.1 billion by 2050. In 2010, 87% of world's Christian population lived in countries where Christians are in the majority, while 13% of world's Christian population lived in countries where Christians are in the minority. Christianity is the predominant religion in Europe, the Americas, Oceania, and Southern Africa. In Asia, it is the dominant religion in Armenia, Cyprus, Georgia, East Timor, and the Philippines. However, it is declining in some areas including the northern and western United States, some areas in Oceania (Australia and New ZealandTable 28, 2006 Census Data – QuickStats About Culture and Identity – Tables
), northern Europe (including Great Britain, Scandinavia and other places), France, Germany, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec, and some parts of Asia (especially the Middle East, due to the , and Macau). The Christian population is not decreasing in Brazil, the southern United States, and the province of Alberta, Canada, but the percentage is decreasing. Since the fall of communism, the proportion of Christians has been stable or even increased in the and countries. Christianity is growing rapidly in both numbers and percentage in , other , ,The Next Christendom: The Rise of Global Christianity. New York: Oxford University Press. 2002. 270 pp. , , (), countries, and . Despite the declining numbers, Christianity remains the dominant religion in the Western World, where 70% are Christians. Christianity remains the largest religion in , where 71% of Western ans identified themselves as in 2018. A 2011 survey found that 76% of Europeans, 73% in Oceania and about 86% in the Americas (90% in Latin America and 77% in North America) identified themselves as Christians. By 2010 about 157 countries and territories in the world had . However, there are many that have become well established over large parts of the world, especially Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Since 1900, primarily due to conversion, Protestantism has spread rapidly in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Latin America. From 1960 to 2000, the global growth of the number of reported grew three times the world's population rate, and twice that of . According to the historian from the , since the 1960s there has been a substantial increase in the number of conversions from Islam to Christianity, mostly to the and forms. A study conducted by St. Mary's University estimated about 10.2 million in 2015, according to the study significant numbers of Muslims converts to Christianity can be found in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Central Asia (including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and other countries), Indonesia, Malaysia, the Middle East (including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other countries), North Africa (including Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia
United States (14 September 2007). ''This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the .''
), Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Western World (including Albania, Belgium, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Russia, Scandinavia, United kingdom, the United States, and other western countries). It is also reported that Christianity is popular among people of different backgrounds in Africa and Aisa, according to a report by the , more people in Southeast Asia are converting to Christianity, many of them are young and have a . According to scholar Juliette Koning and Heidi Dahles of there is a "rapid expansion" of Christianity in , China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and South Korea. According to scholar Terence Chong from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, since 1980s Christianity is expanding in China, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, and Vietnam. In most countries in the developed world, among people who continue to identify themselves as Christians has been falling over the last few decades. Some sources view this simply as part of a drift away from traditional membership institutions, while others link it to signs of a decline in belief in the importance of religion in general. Europe's Christian population, though in decline, still constitutes the largest geographical component of the religion. According to data from the 2012 European Social Survey, around a third of say they attend services once a month or more, Conversely about more than two-thirds of Latin American Christians; according to the , about 90% of (in Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe) said they attended church regularly. , in one form or another, is the sole of the following nations: Argentina (Catholic), (Reformed), (Methodist), Norway (Lutheran),Løsere bånd, men fortsatt statskirke
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Costa Rica (Catholic), the Kingdom of Denmark (Lutheran), England (Anglican), Georgia (Georgian Orthodox), Greece (Greek Orthodox), Iceland (Lutheran), Liechtenstein (Catholic), Malta (Catholic), Monaco (Catholic), and (Catholic). There are numerous other countries, such as Cyprus, which although do not have an , still give official recognition and support to a specific .

File:Christian World—Pew Research Center 2010.svg, Countries with 50% or more Christians are colored purple; countries with 10% to 50% Christians are colored pink File:State Religions.svg, Nations with Christianity as their are in blue File:Percent of Catholics by Country–Pew Research 2011.svg, Distribution of Catholics File:Countries by percentage of Protestants (2010).svg, Distribution of Protestants File:Percent_of_Eastern_Orthodox_Christians_by_country.svg, Distribution of Eastern Orthodox File:Percent of Oriental Orthodox Christians by country.svg, Distribution of Oriental Orthodox File:Percent of Other Christians by Country–Pew Research 2011.svg, Distribution of other Christians

Churches and denominations

The four primary divisions of Christianity are the , the , , and . A broader distinction that is sometimes drawn is between and , which has its origins in the (Great Schism) of the 11th century. Recently, neither Western or Eastern has also stood out, for example, es. However, there are other present and historical Christian groups that do not fit neatly into one of these primary categories. There is a diversity of s and practices among groups calling themselves Christian. These groups may vary in their views on a classification of s. The Nicene Creed (325), however, is typically accepted as authoritative by most Christians, including the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and major Protestant (including Anglican) denominations.

Catholic Church

The Catholic Church consists of those es, headed by bishops, in communion with the , the bishop of Rome, as its highest authority in matters of faith, morality, and church governance.,

Duffy, ''Saints and Sinners'', p. 1. Like y, the Catholic Church, through , traces its origins to the Christian community founded by Jesus Christ.Hitchcock, ''Geography of Religion'', p. 281.Norman, ''The Roman Catholic Church an Illustrated History'', pp. 11, 14. Catholics maintain that the "" founded by Jesus in the Catholic Church, but also acknowledges other Christian churches and communities,

' , chapter 2, paragraph 15.
and works towards among all Christians. The Catholic faith is detailed in the '.Marthaler, ''Introducing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Traditional Themes and Contemporary Issues'' (1994), preface. Of its , the is the principal one, celebrated in the . The church teaches that through by a , the sacrificial and . The is in the Catholic Church as and , honoured in and . Its teaching includes , through faith and of as well as , which emphasises voluntary support for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted through the . The Catholic Church operates thousands of , , , and orphanages around the world, and is the largest non-government provider of and in the world. Among its other social services are numerous charitable and humanitarian organizations. () is the of s and made and enforced by the of the Catholic Church to regulate its external organisation and government and to order and direct the activities of Catholics toward the mission of the church. The canon law of the Latin Church was the first modern Western and is the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the West, while the distinctive traditions of govern the 23 Eastern Catholic es ''.'' As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of ., p. v (preface). The 2,834 are grouped into (the largest of which being the ), each with its own distinct traditions regarding the and the administering of .Barry, ''One Faith, One Lord'' (2001), p. 71 With more than 1.1 billion baptized members, the Catholic Church is the largest Christian and represents 50.1% all Christians as well as one sixth of the .,
CIA World Factbook
' (2007).

/ref> Catholics live all over the world through , , and .

Eastern Orthodox Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church consists of those churches in communion with the al sees of the East, such as the .Cross/Livingstone. ''The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church'', p. 1199. Like the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church also traces its heritage to the foundation of Christianity through and has an structure, though the of its component parts is emphasized, and most of them are national churches. is based on which incorporates the dogmatic decrees of the , the Scriptures, and the teaching of the . The church teaches that it is the established by in his , and that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles. It maintains that it practises the original Christian faith, as passed down by holy tradition. Its , reminiscent of the , and other and churches reflect a variety of . It recognises seven major sacraments, of which the is the principal one, celebrated in . The church teaches that through by a , the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The is in the Eastern Orthodox Church as the , honoured in . Eastern Orthodoxy is the second largest single denomination in Christianity, with an estimated 230 million adherents, although collectively outnumber them, substantially. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the has played a prominent role in the history and culture of and , the , and the .

Oriental Orthodoxy

The (also called "Old Oriental" churches) are those eastern churches that recognize the first three ecumenical councils—, , and —but reject the dogmatic definitions of the and instead espouse a . The Oriental Orthodox communion consists of six groups: , , , , (India), and churches. These six churches, while being in communion with each other, are completely independent hierarchically. These churches are generally not in communion with the , with whom they are in dialogue for erecting a communion. Together, they have about 62 million members worldwide. As some of the oldest religious institutions in the world, the Oriental Orthodox Churches have played a prominent role in the history and culture of , , , , , and parts of the and . An Eastern Christian body of , its s are equal by virtue of , and its doctrines can be summarized in that the churches recognize the validity of only the first three s.

Assyrian Church of the East

The , with an unbroken patriarchate established in the 17th century, is an independent denomination which claims continuity from the —in parallel to the Catholic patriarchate established in the 16th century that evolved into the , an church in with the . It is an Eastern Christian that follows the traditional and of the historical Church of the East. Largely and not in with any other church, it belongs to the eastern branch of , and uses the in its . Its main spoken language is , a dialect of , and the majority of its adherents are ethnic . It is officially headquartered in the city of in northern , and its original area also spreads into south-eastern Turkey and north-western Iran, corresponding to ancient . Its hierarchy is composed of s and s, while lower clergy consists of s and s, who serve in dioceses (eparchies) and parishes throughout the Middle East, India, North America, Oceania, and Europe (including the and Russia). The distinguished itself from the in 1964. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical Church of the East, one of the oldest Christian churches in Mesopotamia.


In 1521, the condemned and officially banned citizens of the from defending or propagating his ideas.Fahlbusch, Erwin, and Bromiley, Geoffrey William, ''The Encyclopedia of Christianity, Volume 3''. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2003. p. 362. This split within the Roman Catholic church is now called the . Prominent Reformers included Martin Luther, , and . The 1529 against being excommunicated gave this party the name . Luther's primary theological heirs are known as . Zwingli and Calvin's heirs are far broader denominationally, and are referred to as the .McManners, ''Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity''. pp. 251–259. Protestants have developed , with major contributions in education, the humanities and sciences, the political and social order, the economy and the arts, and many other fields.Karl Heussi, ''Kompendium der Kirchengeschichte'', 11. Auflage (1956), Tübingen (Germany), pp. 317–319, 325–326 The churches descended from the and organized in the . Some, but not all Anglicans consider themselves both Protestant and Catholic. Since the Anglican, Lutheran, and the Reformed branches of Protestantism originated for the most part in cooperation with the government, these movements are termed the "". On the other hand, groups such as the , who often do not consider themselves to be Protestant, originated in the , which though sometimes protected under ''Acts of Toleration'', do not trace their history back to any state church. They are further distinguished by their rejection of infant baptism; they believe in baptism only of adult believers— (Anabaptists include the , , , , and / groups.) The term ''Protestant'' also refers to any churches which formed later, with either the Magisterial or Radical traditions. In the 18th century, for example, grew out of minister 's . Several and , which emphasize the cleansing power of the , in turn grew out of Methodism. Because Methodists, Pentecostals and other evangelicals stress "accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior", which comes from Wesley's emphasis of the , they often refer to themselves as being . Protestantism is the second largest major group of Christians after Catholicism by number of followers, although the Eastern Orthodox Church is larger than any single Protestant denomination. Estimates vary, mainly over the question of which denominations to classify as Protestant. Yet, the total number of Protestant Christians is generally estimated between 800 million and 1 billion, corresponding to nearly 40% of world's Christians. The majority of Protestants are members of just a handful of denominational families, i.e. , , , , , , /, and . , , , , independent, and other churches are on the rise, and constitute a significant part of Protestant Christianity. Some groups of individuals who hold basic Protestant tenets identify themselves simply as "Christians" or " Christians". They typically distance themselves from the and alism of other Christian communitiesConfessionalism is a term employed by historians to refer to "the creation of fixed identities and systems of beliefs for separate churches which had previously been more fluid in their self-understanding, and which had not begun by seeking separate identities for themselves—they had wanted to be truly Catholic and reformed." (MacCulloch, ''The Reformation: A History'', p. xxiv.) by calling themselves "" or "". Often founded by individual pastors, they have little affiliation with historic denominations. File:Interdenominational movements & other Protestant developments.svg, Links between interdenominational movements and other developments within Protestantism File:Protestant branches.svg, Historical chart of the main Protestant branches


The , a period of religious revival that occurred in the United States during the early 1800s, saw the development of a number of unrelated churches. They generally saw themselves as the original church of Jesus Christ rather than reforming one of the existing churches. A common belief held by Restorationists was that the other divisions of Christianity had introduced doctrinal defects into Christianity, which was known as the . In Asia, is a known restorationist religion that was established during the early 1900s. Some of the churches originating during this period are historically connected to early 19th-century camp meetings in the Midwest and upstate New York. One of the largest churches produced from the movement is . American and , which arose from Evangelical Protestantism, influenced the movement and, as a reaction specifically to , the . Others, including the , , , and the , have their roots in the contemporaneous Stone-Campbell , which was centered in Kentucky and Tennessee. Other groups originating in this time period include the and the previously mentioned . While the churches originating in the Second Great Awakening have some superficial similarities, their doctrine and practices vary significantly.


Within Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Transylvania, Hungary, Romania, and the United Kingdom, emerged from the tradition in the 16th century; the is an example such a denomination that arose in this era. They adopted the doctrine of . Various smaller communities, such as the , include the word ' in their title, and arguably have more or less liturgical practices in common with the , but are no longer in with the . , such as the and s, broke from the and maintain close association with Mennonites and due to similar religious practices; all of these groups are furthermore collectively considered to be due to their belief in . (or the Messianic Movement) is the name of a Christian movement comprising a number of streams, whose members may consider themselves Jewish. The movement originated in the 1960s and 1970s, and it blends elements of religious Jewish practice with evangelical Christianity. Messianic Judaism affirms Christian creeds such as the messiahship and divinity of "Yeshua" (the Hebrew name of Jesus) and the Triune Nature of God, while also adhering to some Jewish dietary laws and customs. regard Christianity as a and profess the existence and possession of certain doctrines or practices, hidden from the public and accessible only to a narrow circle of "enlightened", "initiated", or highly educated people. Some of the esoteric Christian institutions include the , the , and . or non-denominational Christianity consists of es which typically distance themselves from the or alism of other Christian communities by not formally aligning with a specific . Nondenominational Christianity first arose in the 18th century through the , with followers organizing themselves simply as "" and "", but many typically adhere to .

Influence on Western culture

, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to , and a large portion of the population of the Western Hemisphere can be described as practicing or nominal Christians. The notion of "Europe" and the "Western World" has been intimately connected with the concept of "Christianity and ". Many historians even attribute Christianity for being the link that created a unified . Though Western culture contained several polytheistic religions during its early years under the and , as the centralized Roman power waned, the dominance of the Catholic Church was the only consistent force in Western Europe. Until the , Christian culture guided the course of philosophy, literature, art, music and science. Christian disciplines of the respective arts have subsequently developed into , , , , and so on. Christianity has had a significant impact on education, as the church created the bases of the Western system of education, and was the sponsor of in the Western world, as the university is generally regarded as an institution that has its origin in the setting. Historically, Christianity has often been a patron of science and medicine; many , in particular, have been active in the sciences throughout history and have made significant contributions to the . Protestantism also has had an important influence on science. According to the , there was a positive correlation between the rise of English and German on the one hand, and early experimental science on the other.Sztompka, 2003 The civilizing influence of Christianity includes social welfare, founding hospitals, economics (as the ), architecture,Sir , ''History of Architecture on the Comparative Method''. politics, literature, (), and family life. Eastern Christians (particularly ) contributed to the Arab during the reign of the and the , by translating works of to and afterwards, to . They also excelled in philosophy, science, theology, and medicine. have made a myriad of contributions to in a broad and diverse range of fields, including philosophy, , , , , , ,Hall, p. 100. and . According to ''100 Years of Nobel Prizes'' a review of the Nobel Prizes award between 1901 and 2000 reveals that (65.4%) of Laureates, in its various forms as their religious preference.Baruch A. Shalev, ''100 Years of Nobel Prizes'' (2003), Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, p. 57: between 1901 and 2000 reveals that 654 Laureates belong to 28 different religions. Most (65.4%) have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference. s are secular people with a Christian heritage who may not believe in the religious claims of Christianity, but who retain an affinity for the popular culture, art, , and so on related to the religion. ' is the term for the decline of Christianity, particularly in , , , and to a minor degree the , in the 20th and 21st centuries, considered in terms of . It refers to the loss of Christianity's monopoly on and in historically Christian societies.


Christian groups and denominations have long expressed ideals of being reconciled, and in the 20th century, Christian advanced in two ways.McManners, ''Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity'', pp. 581–584. One way was greater cooperation between groups, such as the founded in 1846 in London or the of Protestants in 1910, the Justice, Peace and Creation Commission of the founded in 1948 by Protestant and Orthodox churches, and similar national councils like the , which includes Catholics. The other way was an institutional union with , a practice that can be traced back to unions between Lutherans and Calvinists in early 19th-century Germany. Congregationalist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches united in 1925 to form the , and in 1977 to form the . The was formed in 1947 by the union of Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, Congregationalist, and Presbyterian churches. The is an ecumenical flag designed in the early 20th century to represent all of Christianity and . The ecumenical, is notable for being composed of more than one hundred from Protestant and Catholic traditions. The community emphasizes the reconciliation of all denominations and its main church, located in , France, is named the "Church of Reconciliation". The community is internationally known, attracting over 100,000 young annually. Steps towards reconciliation on a global level were taken in 1965 by the Catholic and Orthodox churches, mutually revoking the excommunications that marked their in 1054; the Anglican Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) working towards full communion between those churches since 1970; and some and Catholic churches signing the in 1999 to address conflicts at the root of the Protestant Reformation. In 2006, the , representing all Methodist denominations, adopted the declaration.

Criticism, persecution, and apologetics


Criticism of Christianity and Christians goes back to the , with the New Testament recording friction between the followers of Jesus and the and (e.g. and ). In the 2nd century, Christianity was criticized by the Jews on various grounds, e.g. that the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible could not have been fulfilled by Jesus, given that he did not have a successful life. Additionally, a sacrifice to remove sins in advance, for everyone or as a human being, did not fit to the Jewish sacrifice ritual; furthermore, is said to judge people on their deeds instead of their beliefs. One of the first comprehensive attacks on Christianity came from the Greek philosopher , who wrote ', a polemic criticizing Christians as being unprofitable members of society. In response, the church father published his treatise ', or ''Against Celsus'', a seminal work of Christian apologetics, which systematically addressed Celsus's criticisms and helped bring Christianity a level of academic respectability. By the 3rd century, criticism of Christianity had mounted. Wild rumors about Christians were widely circulated, claiming that they were and that, as part of their rituals, they devoured human infants and engaged in incestuous orgies. The philosopher wrote the fifteen-volume ''Adversus Christianos'' as a comprehensive attack on Christianity, in part building on the teachings of . By the 12th century, the (i.e., ) was criticizing Christianity on the grounds of idol worship, in that Christians attributed divinity to Jesus, who had a physical body. In the 19th century, began to write a series of polemics on the "unnatural" teachings of Christianity (e.g. sexual abstinence), and continued his criticism of Christianity to the end of his life. In the 20th century, the philosopher expressed his criticism of Christianity in ', formulating his rejection of Christianity in the setting of logical arguments. Criticism of Christianity continues to date, e.g. and theologians criticize the doctrine of the held by most Christians, stating that this doctrine in effect assumes that there are three gods, running against the basic tenet of . New Testament scholar has outlined the possibility that some Bible stories are based partly on myth in ''The Christ Myth Theory and its problems''.


Christians are one of the most religious group in the world, especially in the , North Africa and South and East Asia. In 2017, estimated approximately 260 million Christians are subjected annually to "high, very high, or extreme persecution"
'. 11 January 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
with North Korea considered the most hazardous nation for Christians.Enos, Olivia. "North Korea is the world's worst persecutor of Christians".
'. 25 January 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
In 2019, a reportMounstephen, Philip. "Interim report".
''Bishop of Truro's Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians''. April 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
commissioned by the United Kingdom's of the (FCO) to investigate global persecution of Christians found persecution has increased, and is highest in the Middle East, North Africa, India, China, North Korea, and Latin America, among others,Kay, Barbara. "Our politicians may not care, but Christians are under siege across the world".
'. 8 May 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
and that it is global and not limited to Islamic states.Mounstephen, Philip. "Final Report and Recommendations".
'' Independent Review for the Foreign Secretary of FCO Support for Persecuted Christians''. July 2019. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
This investigation found that approximately 80% of persecuted believers worldwide are Christians.


Christian apologetics aims to present a basis for Christianity. The word "apologetic" (Greek: ἀπολογητικός ''apologētikos'') comes from the Greek verb ἀπολογέομαι ''apologeomai'', meaning "(I) speak in defense of". Christian apologetics has taken many forms over the centuries, starting with Paul the Apostle. The philosopher presented five arguments for God's existence in the ', while his ' was a major apologetic work. Another famous apologist, , wrote in the early twentieth century about the benefits of religion and, specifically, Christianity. Famous for his use of paradox, Chesterton explained that while Christianity had the most mysteries, it was the most practical religion. He pointed to the as proof of its practicality. The physicist and priest , in his ', discusses the subject of , a topic that other Christian apologists such as , , and have engaged, with the latter two men opining that the is evidence for the . is apologetics that aims to defend .

See also

* * * * * * * * *




* .

. * Ball, Bryan; Johnsson, William (ed.). ''The Essential Jesus''. Pacific Press (2002). . * Barrett, David; Kurian, Tom and others. (ed.). ''World Christian Encyclopedia''. Oxford University Press (2001). * Barry, John F. ''One Faith, One Lord: A Study of Basic Catholic Belief''. William H. Sadlier (2001). * Benton, John. ''Is Christianity True?'' Darlington, Eng.: Evangelical Press (1988). * (ed.). ''Documents of the Christian Church''. Oxford University Press (1943). * * * * Chambers, Mortimer; Crew, Herlihy, Rabb, Woloch. ''The Western Experience. Volume II: The Early Modern Period''. Alfred A. Knopf (1974). . * Coffey, John. ''Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England 1558–1689''. Pearson Education (2000). * Cross, F.L.; Livingstone, E.A. (ed.). ''The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church''. Oxford University Press (1997). . * Deppermann, Klaus. ''Melchior Hoffman: Social Unrest and Apocalyptic Vision in the Age of Reformation''. . * Dilasser, Maurice. ''The Symbols of the Church''. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press (1999). * Duffy, Eamon. ''Saints and Sinners, a History of the Popes''. Yale University Press (1997). * * Esler, Philip F. ''The Early Christian World''. Routledge (2004). * Farrar, F.W.

'. Macmillan, London/New York (1904). * Ferguson, Sinclair; Wright, David, eds. New Dictionary of Theology. consulting ed. Packer, James. Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press (1988). * Foutz, Scott.
'' Martin Luther and Scripture
' Martin Luther and Scripture''. * Fowler, Jeaneane D. ''World Religions: An Introduction for Students'', Sussex Academic Press (1997). . * ' Scribners (1965). . * Froehle, Bryan; Gautier, Mary, ''Global Catholicism, Portrait of a World Church'', Orbis books; Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, Georgetown University (2003) * Funk, Robert. ''The Acts of Jesus: What Did Jesus Really Do?''. Polebridge Press (1998). . * Glenny, W. Edward. ''Typology: A Summary of the Present Evangelical Discussion''. * * Hanegraaff, Hank. ''Resurrection: The Capstone in the Arch of Christianity''. Thomas Nelson (2000). . * Harnack, Adolf von.

' (1894). * Hickman, Hoyt L. and others. ''Handbook of the Christian Year''. Abingdon Press (1986). * Hitchcock, Susan Tyler. ''Geography of Religion''. National Geographic Society (2004) * Kelly, J.N.D. ''Early Christian Doctrines''. * Kelly, J.N.D. ''The Athanasian Creed''. Harper & Row, New York (1964). * Kirsch, Jonathan. ''God Against the Gods''. * Kreeft, Peter. ''Catholic Christianity''. Ignatius Press (2001) * Letham, Robert. ''The Holy Trinity in Scripture, History, Theology, and Worship''. P & R Publishing (2005). . * Lorenzen, Thorwald. ''Resurrection, Discipleship, Justice: Affirming the Resurrection Jesus Christ Today''. Smyth & Helwys (2003). . * McLaughlin, R. Emmet, ''Caspar Schwenckfeld, reluctant radical: his life to 1540'', New Haven: Yale University Press (1986). . * , ''The Reformation: A History''. Viking Adult (2004). * MacCulloch, Diarmaid, '. London, Allen Lane. 2009. * Marber, Peter. ''Money Changes Everything: How Global Prosperity Is Reshaping Our Needs, Values and Lifestyles''. FT Press (2003). * Marthaler, Berard. ''Introducing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Traditional Themes and Contemporary Issues''. Paulist Press (1994). * Mathison, Keith. ''The Shape of Sola Scriptura'' (2001). * McClintock, John, ''Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature''. Harper &Brothers, original from Harvard University (1889) * . ''Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity''. Oxford University Press (1990). . * Metzger, Bruce M., Michael Coogan (ed.). ''Oxford Companion to the Bible''. Oxford University Press (1993). . * . * Norman, Edward. ''The Roman Catholic Church, An Illustrated History''. University of California (2007) * Olson, Roger E., ''The Mosaic of Christian Belief''. InterVarsity Press (2002). . * Orlandis, Jose, ''A Short History of the Catholic Church''. Scepter Publishers (1993) * Otten, Herman J. ''Baal or God? Liberalism or Christianity, Fantasy vs. Truth: Beliefs and Practices of the Churches of the World Today''.... Second ed. New Haven, Mo.: Lutheran News, 1988. * Pelikan, Jaroslav; Hotchkiss, Valerie (ed.) ''Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition''. Yale University Press (2003). . * Putnam, Robert D. ''Democracies in Flux: The Evolution of Social Capital in Contemporary Society''. Oxford University Press (2002). * * Riley-Smith, Jonathan. ''The Oxford History of the Crusades''. New York: Oxford University Press, (1999). * Schama, Simon. ''A History of Britain''. Hyperion (2000). . * Servetus, Michael. ''Restoration of Christianity''. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press (2007). * Simon, Edith. ''Great Ages of Man: The Reformation''. Time-Life Books (1966). . * Spitz, Lewis. ''The Protestant Reformation''. Concordia Publishing House (2003). . * .

'. * Sykes, Stephen; Booty, John; Knight, Jonathan. ''The Study of Anglicanism''. Augsburg Fortress Publishers (1998). . * Talbott, Thomas.
Three Pictures of God in Western Theology
' (1995). * Ustorf, Werner. "A missiological postscript", in: McLeod, Hugh; Ustorf, Werner (ed.). ''The Decline of Christendom in Western Europe, 1750–2000''. Cambridge University Press (2003). * Walsh, Chad. ''Campus Gods on Trial''. Rev. and enl. ed. New York: Macmillan Co., 1962, t.p. 1964. xiv, 154 p. * * *

Further reading

* * * MacCulloch, Diarmaid. ''Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years'' (Viking; 2010) 1,161 pp.; survey by leading historian * * * * * Roper, J.C., ''Bp''. (1923), ''et al.''. ''Faith in God'', in series, ''Layman's Library of Practical Religion, Church of England in Canada'', vol. 2. Toronto, Ont.: Musson Book Co. ''N.B''.: The series statement is given in the more extended form which appears on the book's front cover. * * * * * * * , "A Wild and Indecent Book" (review of , ''The New Testament: A Translation'', Yale University Press, 577 pp.), ', vol. LXV, no. 2 (8 February 2018), pp. 34–35. Discusses some pitfalls in interpreting and translating the .

External links

''Encyclopædia Britannica''
Religion & Ethics – Christianity
A number of introductory articles on Christianity from the BBC {{Authority control Western culture